Remembering a Tremendous Man: BJ Johnson

BJ Johnson

If you have ever been to one of the Flynn “high holidays” – like Piemas or Mocksgiving you’ve definitely met BJ. He was always punctual (if not early!) and lingered late into the nights, when we all diliquesced into the couch and began rumbling as much as talking, with shadows and silences stretching long. Some nights, BJ would wrap up an evening by running a game of Werewolf for us. “Close your eyes” he’d intone. “Werewolves, open your eyes and acknowledge each other.” There were long conversations on video game art, obscure 1980s cartoons, comic books and toy design. BJ was truly among his own in these gatherings, and deeply beloved by the folks there.

I learned this year that BJ had a special “Mocksgiving shirt”. He was sad that he thought it would need to be retired after this year.

BJ was also renowned in our local circles for incredible Halloween costumes. We’ve all been frantically searching our archives for the year he came as the king from Katamari Damacy, or my personal favorite, the year he was “Tremendous” with a tiny city glued on his shoes and a hat made up of clouds. He was endlessly creative and had the artistic chops to pull his crazy designs off – even if they weren’t always comfortable.

BJ c. 2003

We learned this weekend of BJ’s death, and it comes as a great shock and sorrow to us all. It doesn’t seem possible that I’ll never get to chat with him in the kitchen while I prep, or hear the latest news from Saxonburg. I have gotten the last ever BJ-drawn Christmas card (this year’s was Santa wearing goggles flying on a giant eagle). The world is a poorer, sadder place for not having him in it. There will be a hole in my table and my heart for as long as I continue to set the feast.

This last Mocksgiving

The family is holding services at 11 a.m. Saturday January 26th 2020 at Saxonburg Memorial Church, 100 W. Main St., Saxonburg PA. BJ was a devoted and faithful member of that congregation, and the family has asked that instead of flowers, memorials be sent to the church.

For folks who may not be able to make it to Pennsylvania, we’ll be doing a few things locally here in Boston. We’re tying down a date to have a memorial meal in Waltham (his home while he lived up here).

This is now scheduled:
BJ Johnson Memorial Brunch
Saturday, Feb. 1st, 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
In a Pickle Restaurant
265 Moody St.
Waltham, MA
(Please let me know if you’re coming so I can notify you if there are any last minute changes.)

We will also take some time during the upcoming Piemas to remember our missing pie-companion and celebrate his life. In his last email to me he said, “May these occasions long be afforded for us all to gather and enjoy the friendships we’ve been blessed with.” We were certainly blessed to have his friendship.

His Christmas Cards were always a highlight